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The Middle East and its armies

The military successes of the Islamic State - at first apparently just a tatterdemalion bunch of ill-equipped jihadists before they became more clearly in focus as a force to be reckoned with - underlines the question of why regular armies across the Middle East and beyond have frequently proven to be ineffective under fire. - Brian M Downing (Sep 19, '14)

Obama's 'stupid stuff'
turned upside down

First US President Barack Obama promised there would be no ground troops to fight The Caliph - as in a re-invasion of Iraq. Then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey argues that if Obama's self-defined "Don't So Stupid Stuff" foreign policy doctrine does not work he'll go for ground troops. "Don't Do Stupid Stuff" changes its tune like surfing on iTunes. And the tune now is the "Syraq" offensive remixed.
- Pepe Escobar (Sep 18, '14)

IS and the blowback brewing
The stresses and fault lines the Middle East today could easily lead to implosions tomorrow, and America's past failure could see it be blamed, rightly or wrongly, for any ensuing mayhem. The critical questions the George W Bush administration ignored when it invaded Iraq remain applicable today for Barack Obama.
- Emile Nakhleh (Sep 19, '14)

China bargains with Indian territory

Far away from the cheer of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to India and the inking of deals which will boost investments, cut the trade imbalance and build a high-speed rail corridor, Beijing has orchestrated spurts of aggressive intrusions on India's border which reveal up close its true intentions and undermine the sincerity of strategic agreements.
- Namrata Goswami (Sep 19, '14)

The Tao of North Korea

Most outsiders think of the Korean peninsula as starkly divided: to the dark north is Gulag style, while the lights of the south flicker Gangnam Style. Forgot the statellite photos that illustrate the difference - North and South Korea are more Ying and Yang than many suppose, and they're slowly growing closer.
- John Feffer (Sep 19, '14)

A wild ride in China
The Incarnations
by Susan Barker

A sprawling tale of intersecting lives and generations that spans 1,000 years of blood- and sex-besotted Chinese history, this intricate work uses lively prose and perverse narrative twists to explore personal betrayal. Relentlessly dark and tragic, the book is fueled and fired by an astonishing imagination. - Kent Ewing (Sep 19, '14)

China still haunted by Japan
This month's celebration of a newly created "Victory against Japan" day in China is a reminder of how, despite burgeoning economic ties, Beijing continues to view the past as window into the future. China wants Japan to constantly remember its imperialist past and not repeat the mistakes of that period, but there are also risks in this approach.
- Amrita Jash (Sep 19, '14)

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Last sunrise for the UK?
It is breathtaking that today could mark a velvet divorce between Scotland and England (plus the rest of the UK). This is not how separations have ended in most parts of the world - the 1971 civilian death toll in what is now Bangladesh was anything up to 3 million. What Scotland underscores is that it is not economic development (or deprivation) that lies at the root of political alienation.
- M K Bhadrakumar (Sep 18, '14)

Old imperial habits die hard
As the rest of the UK belatedly recognizes the possibility of losing the northern chunk of Britain, so grows a realization that the referendum may not only be about independence and that much more than Scottish "freedom" is at stake - nuclear weapons and a UN Security Council seat also lie in the balance. And if voters back a split from perfidious Albion, the conflict in Whitehall between revenge and reconciliation may well echo early negotiations for withdrawal from more distant bits of empire. (Sep 18, '14)

Palestinian reconciliation at crossroads
President Mahmoud Abbas has unleashed a media campaign against Hamas and the Palestinian resistance which makes it appear that he has prioritized "peace with Israel" over national reconciliation. If public pressure fails to stop the divisions, Abbas may achieve politically what Israel failed to achieve militarily. - Nicola Nasser (Sep 17, '14)

IS gives US its 'Suez Crisis' moment
The US action against Islamic State suggests it views intervention in Syria as a Trojan Horse opportunity to advance anti-Assad forces. Syria's Assad, Russia, and IS are not going to stand by as this plan is implemented. Nor, if IS activity expands in the region, will China wait, US "limit of empire" style, for disaster to pound at the door before thinking about doing something. It will respond pre-emptively and fiercely.
- Peter Lee (Sep 17, '14)

Tibetan railway signals border imbalance
Infrastructure development, including road and rail links on the Chinese side of the border with India, is a major cause of concern for India's political and military leadership, given the countries' long-standing border disputes. The recently completed extension of the Qinghai-Tibet railway line holds worrying security implications for New Delhi, but its concerns can be best addressed by increasing connectivity on the Indian side of the border. - Sana Hashmi (Sep 17, '14)

From Hamas royalty
to Israel's spy

Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of one of the founders of the biggest Palestinian militant group, spent a decade working undercover with the Israeli security service, thwarting dozens of Palestinian attacks. His story sounds like the makings of a Hollywood big budget spy thriller, but is the plot of a documentary, The Green Prince, that sheds limited light on the relationship between a spy and his handler. - Mitchell Plitnick (Sep 16, '14)

What draws Modi to China
India's new dalliance with China gets seriously under way on Wednesday when, on the banks of the ancient Sabarmati river in Gujarat, Narendra Modi greets Chinese president Xi Jinping. The leaders meet at a figurative bend in a river, where expectations that India's foreign policy will continue to flow America's way are drying up as India follows the real money.
- M K Bhadrakumar (Sep 16, '14)

In Gandhi's footsteps

Indian workers make repairs at the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, which Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are scheduled to visit on Wednesday.

China expects Modi to deliver
China's companies confidently put off expansion plans in India until Narendra Modi took the helm. Beijing silently absorbed the Indian prime minister's nationalistic election rhetoric. As Chinese President Xi Jinping begins an overdue visit to New Delhi, both can reasonably expect Modi to deliver better relations, especially in the economic sphere. - Santosh Pai (Sep 16, '14)

Rattled by Russia, Tashkent looks east
Russia's aggressive actions toward Ukraine are vexing Central Asian states. First, officials in Kazakhstan were chagrined to hear comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin that appeared to denigrate Kazakhstani statehood. Now, Uzbek leaders are showing signs of displeasure with Moscow. - Joanna Lillis (Sep 15, '14)

A convenient Middle East genocide
The Yazidis, a sect until recently barely heard of outside the Middle East, suddenly became a rallying point for the West to stage yet another intervention in Iraq to stave off another imminent "genocide". Experience has taught that not all "acts of genocide" are created equal, and for the US the only real genocide is one that serves its own interests. - Ramzy Baroud (Sep 15, '14)

Gaza and the threat of world war
The siege of Gaza is a siege of all of us. The denial of justice to Palestinians is a symptom of much of humanity under siege and a warning that the threat of a new world war is growing by the day as immunity for mass murder is sponsored by a godfather in Washington that has answered the cries of children in Gaza with more ammunition to kill them. (Sep 12, '14)

Obama launches his war, finally
So the United States President Barack Obama unveiled his strategy to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The strategy has no timeline and, quintessentially, the US will pit Muslims against Muslims in a grim war through the deployment of "smart power".
- M K Bhadrakumar (Sep 12, '14)

The Cold War lives on
We were told that the Cold War was over; we even watched its funeral. But the coffin was empty and its death greatly exaggerated - the Soviet Union merely dropped out of the competition for global hegemony. The United States, on the other hand, has not changed its attitude. Because its institutions of the Cold War lived on, the spirit of the enterprise lay dormant, only waiting for the opportunity to spring forth.
- John Feffer (Sep 12, '14)


Cambodia army eyes
wage protest rallies

Garment workers rallied outside factories in Phnom Penh this week under the gaze of armed soldiers to demand an increase in the monthly minimum wage from $100 to $177. Protests come ahead of negotiations later this month between the unions and government.

China bids to cut coal
output, halt price fall

China is moving to slash coal production in a bid to reverse a 20% price decline this year as slower economic growth has sapped demand, while global competition from cleaner fuels has helped to drive coal prices down.
- Michael Lelyveld

Viennese peace twirl
The bicentenary of the Congress of Vienna, organized to settle the questions outstanding from the Napoleonic Wars, seems as good a week as any to celebrate a conference that in effect laid the foundation of the global system we inhabit today.
- Martin Hutchinson

Catching up with Modiís Himalayan sprint
In a brilliant editorial, Times of India newspaper has given some friendly advice to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on creative thinking in diplomacy. This advice should have come from the Prime Minister's Office, perhaps, since Indian diplomacy is on the cusp of change and, unless the South Block moves in sync with the spirit of the times, it may get marginalized Ö
- M K Bhadrakumar

[Re How Washington made Islamic state, September 3, 2014] In order to defeat IS and the ideological cancer they are spreading, their source of funding must be eliminated, their captured American heavy armor destroyed by precision bombing, and neighboring countries brought in for a regional response. President Obama's judicious use of wise diplomacy and American power is the right way forward.
Fariborz S Fatemi
McLean, VA
   Go to Letters to the Editor

1. Western plutocracy goes bear hunting

2. Hiroshima: Counting minutes to midnight

3. Gaza's resistance paradigm

4. Crime (Israel) and punishment (Russia)

5. The end of Israel's historical immunity

6. Xi grows in confidence at China's helm

7. It was Putin's missile!

8. China paying for corruption crackdown

9. The 'non-state' solution

10. Eurasia needs a Sino-German axis

(24 hours to 11:59pm ET, Aug 6, 2014)


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